Perry King impresses as director and star of this C&I Movie Award-winning drama.
Editor's Note: Throughout March and April, we’re celebrating Great Westerns of the 21st Century — noteworthy movies and TV series with special appeal to C&I readers that have premiered since 2001. Check the Entertainment tab Monday through Friday to see a different recommendation by C&I senior writer Joe Leydon. And be on the lookout for our upcoming May/June 2020 print edition, which prominently features the legendary star who looms large in two of this century’s very best westerns.
In The Divide, his debut effort as a feature film director, veteran actor Perry King gave what arguably is his all-time best screen performance as Sam Kincaid, a Northern California rancher who, during the drought of 1976, struggles to remember what is important — and transcend what he cannot forget — as he is gradually diminished by Alzheimer’s Disease.
On the other side of the camera, King the director (working in concert with screenwriter Jana Brown) fashioned an uncommonly compelling and emotionally rich drama. And he surrounded King the actor with a sterling supporting cast: Bryan Kaplan as Luke Higgins, Kincaid’s hired hand, a man yearning for his own shot at redemption; Sara Arrington (of Amazon Prime’s Bosch) as Sarah, Kincaid’s estranged daughter, who’s reluctant to admit her feelings toward Sam or Luke; Luke Colembero as C.J., Sarah’s son, who desperately needs a grandfather and a father figure; and Levi Kreis (who earned a 2010 Tony Award for playing Jerry Lee Lewis in the original Broadway production of Million Dollar Quartet) as Tom Cutler, a deceptively charismatic fellow with a score to settle with Sam.
King shot The Divide as an independent production not far from his own Northern California ranch. And while it took a while to raise the budget, he had the freedom to make the movie just way he wanted to make it — in old school black-and-white.
“The Divide for me is me finally saying this is something I want to do for myself,” King told us when The Divide premiered at the WorldFest/Houston International Film Festival. “Like so many people, I’ve always dreamed of doing my own film. And it was always a black and white film in my head, because that’s what I love — that’s what’s always appealed to me. The old black and white films, those are what I love the most. Especially from the ‘30s and ‘40s.
“But I have to say: If there was one film that I was trying to — well, I wouldn’t say copy, but perhaps extend out of — it would be Hud, which is a great film. And also Lonely Are the Brave, with Kirk Douglas. Which Kirk Douglas, I think, once said was his favorite movie. Those are western-themed, black and white movies. John Ford famously said, ‘Black and white photography is real photography.’
“I can’t imagine this film being anything but black and white. And, really, I figured if I were going to make my own movie, I’d make it my way. For about 50 years, I’ve been working for other people. And you have to do it their way, because it’s their money, their choice. But you might find yourself thinking, ‘Well, if it were my choice, I wouldn’t do it this way. This is not the choice I’d make. But I’m doing your movie, so I got to do it your way.’ But this time — I figured, I get to choose.”
The Divide was voted Best Picture, and King was chosen as Best Actor, during balloting for the second annual C&I Movie Awards. The film current is available for streaming on Amazon Prime and VUDU.com.